Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas
Appeal from the 196th District Court Hunt County, Texas Trial
Court Cause No. 85135
Chief Justice Burns, Justice Richter , and Justice Rosenberg
D. BURNS, III CHIEF JUSTICE
AP5 Conduit LLC appeals the trial court's summary
judgment in favor of Hunt County Appraisal District (HCAD)
denying Sunnova a tax exemption related to the value of
appraised property arising from the installation or
construction of a solar powered device. We affirm the trial
parties stipulated to the following facts: Sunnova leases to
Texas residents solar systems which are designed to convert
radiant energy from the sun into electricity. In 2015,
Sunnova installed and constructed a solar system at a
residence in Hunt County, Texas, and leased the solar system
to the homeowners.
fiscal year 2017, Sunnova filed an Exemption Application,
requesting exemption for the solar device from HCAD pursuant
to § 11.27 of the Texas Tax Code (the Exemption). HCAD
denied the Exemption Application, and Sunnova timely
protested. HCAD's appraisal review board heard
Sunnova's protest and determined the solar device should
be taxed at an appraised value of $9, 310. Upon receiving the
board's final order, Sunnova filed suit appealing denial
of its Exemption Application.
parties agree the solar device falls within the
Exemption's definition of "solar energy
device." The undisputed evidence also demonstrates that
Sunnova is the sole owner of any tax credits related to the
trial court granted HCAD's motion for summary judgment
and denied Sunnova's motion, concluding, but without
stating a basis for its finding, that Sunnova was not
entitled to the Exemption.
judgments present questions of law, reviewed de novo.
Natividad v. Alexsis, Inc., 875 S.W.2d 695, 699 (Tex.
1994). When the parties file competing motions for summary
judgment on the same issues and the trial court grants one
motion and denies the other, the reviewing court must
consider all of the summary judgment evidence presented by
both sides, determine all questions presented, and if the
trial court erred, render the judgment the trial court should
have rendered. Valence Operating Co. v. Dorsett, 164
S.W.3d 656, 661 (Tex. 2005). When a trial court grants
summary judgment for one movant and denies it for another
without specifying the reason for its ruling, we may affirm
the trial court's judgment if any of the grounds raised
in the prevailing party's motion are meritorious. See
Carlton v. Trinity Universal Ins., 32 S.W.3d 454, 458
(Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2000, pet. denied).
construction is also a question of law, reviewed de novo.
Tex. Dep't of Transp. v. Needham, 82 S.W.3d 314,
318 (Tex. 2002). Our primary objective when construing
statutes is to give effect to the legislature's intent.
Fort Worth Transp. Auth. v. Rodriguez, 547 S.W.3d
830, 838 (Tex. 2018). The plain meaning of the text expresses
legislative intent unless legislative definition or context
provides otherwise, or the plain meaning leads to an absurd
result. Id. We "read statutes contextually to
give effect to every word, clause and sentence" and
"strive to give the provision a meaning that is in
harmony with other related statutes." Id. at
838, 845 n.8. If we cannot determine legislative intent
solely from the words of the statute and those words give
rise to two or more reasonable interpretations, a statute is
ambiguous. Id. at 838 (citing Tex. State Bd. of
Exam'rs of Marriage & Family Therapists v. Tex. Med.
Ass'n, 511 S.W.3d 28, 41 (Tex. 2017)). Moreover,
statutory exemptions from taxation are strictly construed and
all doubts are resolved against the exemption. See N.
Alamo Water Supply Corp. v. Willacy Cty. Appraisal
Dist., 804 S.W.2d 894, 899 (Tex. 1991). We construe
statutory exemptions from taxation strictly "because
they undermine equality and uniformity by placing a greater
burden on some taxpaying businesses and individuals rather
than placing the burden on all taxpayers equally."
Id. All doubts are resolved in favor of the taxing
authority and against the claimant. Bullock v. Nat'l
Bancshares Corp., 584 S.W.2d 268, 272 (Tex. 1979).
Section 11.17 of the Texas Tax Code ...